Group of parents plan book protest for Monday

1 month ago Fremont Tribune

A group of more than a dozen parents are planning a “silent” protest during the Monday, Feb. 20, meeting of the Keene Memorial Library Advisory Board during which an appeal of a controversial sex education book will be discussed.

Local mother Kelley Garay, who is the daughter of local grandmother Sandra Murray, posted plans for the protest on Facebook, asking anyone interested in, “support of children’s innocence,” to attend the meeting, slated for 6:30 p.m., at the city council chambers, on the second floor inside the Fremont Municipal Building, 400 E. Military Ave.

Garay said she has two children, ages 7 and 11 years old, whom she homeschools. She said she uses the city public library for her homeschooling, and said having sexually explicit books available to children was inappropriate in her opinion. Garay also said she fully supports her mother – Sandra – and other sister, Brianna Kindler – in their efforts to protect the, “innocence of children” from what she alleges is pornographic materials.

As of Thursday, Feb. 16, an estimated 12 people had confirmed their attendance at the event as well as six others who listed their attendance as “interested.” The posting on Facebook included a link to another website where Garay posted graphic, sexually explicit images found in the books she says are both available in physical form at the library as well as online, through an app called, “Libby.”

“We will be (at the meeting). We will not be yelling or obnoxious, but we will be the silent protesters. When do we say when? Why are we supporting these people (library officials) who are doing this? This is a book that is pure pornography,” Garay said. “It may not be a winnable battle, but we are going to stand up for what we think is right.”

The Monday meeting of the library’s advisory board will not have public comment allowed under a city decision announced on Feb. 9 by City Administrator Jody Sanders.

That decision was derided by Garay, who said it was unfair in her Facebook post.

“For the first time ever, the library Board of Directors has decided that they will not allow citizens to speak at this upcoming monthly meeting,” Garay wrote. “This change in policy is an effort to silence the concerned, tax-paying citizens. But for the sake of the children of this community, we cannot be silent, even if we are denied the right to speak.”

The board meeting agenda has an item that deals with Murray’s appeal of a Jan. 16 decision by Library Director Laura England-Biggs to retain and keep the book, “Sex is a Funny Word,” on library shelves. Murray disagreed with England-Biggs’ decision, and appealed that to the five-member, volunteer library board.

“(The book) is very sexually explicit with pictures of adult genitalia, teachings on masturbation among other things children should not see,” Murray wrote in a letter appealing England-Biggs’ decision. “You could replace it with books on sexual purity and abstinence since you have quite a few books from the other, opposite viewpoint.”

The issue started on Dec. 27 when Murray and her other daughter, Kindler, spoke out on Dec. 27 about the book and four others in the library. As of Feb. 16, Murray has identified 87 books with LGBTQ+ themes and topics that she also does not believe should be in the library.

On Feb. 10, Murray filed another official material complaint with England-Biggs, this time requesting the LGBTQ+ book, “This Book is Gay” be totally banned from the library. No decision on that book has been made yet.

After her initial comments on the books on Dec. 27, Murray then filed an official contested books or materials complaint with the library. That complaint – seeking the total removal of “Sex is a Funny Word” – was denied by England-Biggs on Jan. 16. Following that ruling, Murray then officially appealed England-Biggs decision to the library board itself.

In an interview on Feb. 7, England-Biggs said the five-member library board will discuss the appeal during their Monday, Feb. 20 meeting at the city administrative building, 400 E. Military Ave.

“We do have it on the agenda for the Feb. 20 to review the book,” she explained. “There is no normal, because this is our first time. Each of the board members has a copy of the book and is reading it at this time.”

On Tuesday, Feb. 16, members of the Fremont City Council voted to add a new policy to the library’s Policy Manual, dealing with explicit materials. The new policy allows for parents or legal guardians of children aged 11 or younger to request a book or material be removed from the children’s section and relocated to the adult section of the library.











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